Sulfur polymers for the environment and human health

Author: Max Worthington

Worthington, Max, 2020 Sulfur polymers for the environment and human health, Flinders University, College of Science and Engineering

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With the rapid depletion of our most important chemical feedstock—crude oil—ever looming it is

important to explore the possibility of alternate carbon sources for the production of polymers and

other chemicals. Sulfur, a by-product of the petroleum industry, offers an incredibly cheap and

accessible building block for the polymerisation of such materials. By reacting canola oil, an

inexpensive and abundant plant extract with sulfur through inverse-vulcanisation, our lab has

developed a new high-sulfur-content rubber from renewable and waste materials.

This rubber is able to remove various species of toxic mercury from air, water and soil, and inclusion

of sodium chloride as a porogen in synthesis affords a porous version of this material with improved

mercury binding capabilities and also the capacity to absorb crude oil and diesel; key polluters in

ocean oil spills.

The use of sulfur polymers as biomedical implants was also explored with the incorporation of

therapeutic molecules for controlled and targeted delivery within the body.

Keywords: Sulfur, Polymer, Mercury, Oil Spill, Polysulfide, Green Chemistry

Subject: Chemistry thesis

Thesis type: Doctor of Philosophy
Completed: 2020
School: College of Science and Engineering
Supervisor: Justin Chalker